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Last look: Dolphins-Jaguars

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JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play host to the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Field Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

Records

Jaguars (0-1), Dolphins (1-0).

Big picture

The Jaguars enter this game needing a victory to avert an 0-2 start.

As much as that, they enter it needing to play well after losing to the Carolina Panthers, 20-9, in the regular-season opener – a game the Jaguars could have won.

First-half mistakes and second-half offensive struggles hurt the Jaguars in the opener, and that's a huge part of the pre-game storyline entering Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. Can the Jaguars' young receivers make makeable plays? Can Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles show the improvement he showed in preseason? Can the line play as well throughout the game as it did in the first half last week, when it run-blocked well and allowed just one sack?

Defensively, the Jaguars allowed just one touchdown against Carolina and face a similar offense with a read-option feel this week. The Dolphins' defense struggled to stop the run last week in what many described as a sloppy performance in a 17-10 victory over Washington.

 

Injury front

Injuries are a key story for the Jaguars entering the weekend.

Left tackle Luke Joeckel, expected to be a game-time decision, is listed as questionable after not practicing this week because of an ankle injury sustained against Carolina. Sam Young will start at left tackle if Joeckel can't play with Luke Bowanko likely backing up Young.

Strong safety Johnathan Cyprien is doubtful with a calf injury. Look for third-year veteran Josh Evans to start in his place with rookie James Sample possibly playing a role.

Cornerback Dwayne Gratz has been ruled out after sustaining an ankle injury in practice this week, and tight end Julius Thomas (hand), defensive end Andre Branch (knee) and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee) are also out.

Running back Toby Gerhart is listed as doubtful, with linebacker Thurston Armbrister (back) listed as questionable and wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), wide receiver Rashad Greene (back) and Evans (illness) listed as probable.

Demetrius McCray will move into Gratz's third-corner position while Lee is expected to make his first appearance of the season after sustaining a hamstring injury three days into training camp.

Final thought

Make no mistake: this is a big game for the Jaguars. After a preseason and offseason in which they showed improvement, they made too many mistakes offensively in the first half of the opener and were stagnant offensively through much of the second half. The Jaguars believe they are more the team they showed in the preseason than what they showed in the opener, but they need to play well in the regular season to show it. Miami won't be an easy opponent, but with three consecutive road games looming, Sunday's game has an urgent feel.

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